The Reverend ——-, who lectured in Divinity to the students of ——- University, strode across the grounds of the Cathedral Close, being desirous of paying a call on his friend the Bishop of ——. In this he was accompanied by a young man, a former student who had recently received his degree and was presently preparing for ordination. This person’s company was most unwelcome to the distinguished clergyman, as he was being importuned, in the most obsequious and long-winded terms for his influence in obtaining an incumbent’s position after his ordination.
Their arrival at the bishop’s residence did not put an end to the entreaties. Indeed, it seemed possible that the man would even follow him into the house. In the end, Reverend ——- pointedly remarked that he had not been aware that his former student was sufficiently acquainted with the Bishop of —— as to be able to call on him, which finally induced him to go away, albeit with many apologies and bows.
Once safely inside, the housekeeper conducted the Reverend to the bishop’s study, where he was attending to his correspondence. The gentlemen exchanged the customary greetings, however, the bishop noted that his friend was not his usual cheerful self and remarked upon it.
“You seem rather out of sorts today. Has something vexed you? Your students, perhaps?”
“You know me too well. One of them in particular has taken to following me nearly everywhere I go, begging me to use my influence to find him a rector’s position. It is everything infuriating, especially as he has nothing whatsoever to recommend himself to my interest. But enough of him! He has taken up far too much of my time, and I will not allow him to take up any of yours. I notice that you also seem somewhat distracted. Has something about your correspondence disturbed you? I hope there is no bad news in it?”
The bishop picked up one of the letters on the desk before him, glanced at it briefly and cast it down again. “Lady Catherine de Bourgh has yet again dismissed the incumbent at Hunsford. According to her, he does not show the respect due to someone of her station. What she means in actuality is that he insists upon doing his job in the manner that seems fitting to him without allowing her to dictate the subjects of his sermons, his ways of caring for his parishioners, and even the way he runs his household! Word is beginning to get around about her difficult nature, and I am finding it almost impossible to find a willing replacement.”
“So in effect she is looking for someone who is servile, sycophantic, obsequious and dependent upon her for his every opinion.”
“You have the right of it, I fear. But where am I to find such a one?”
“I believe I have the solution to both our problems. You must allow me to introduce Mr William Collins to you.”